Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Horse Galloping through the Nave on my 115th Visit....Sort of.

Horse race
photo by Alexander Kavun, used under the creative commons license.
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I do find that arriving early is the best way for me to "fully enter into" Worship during Vespers. It allows me to pray first and mentally block out distractions. It also allows times for memorable conversations about horses.  Let me explain:  I had noticed the bread and wine on the table in the center of the Nave and that is the tell-tale sign that Litya will be served that night. I asked Tammi, Which Feast are we celebrating? since Litya is only served on the eve of major Feasts.  Turns out it's the Feast of the THE NATIVITY OF OUR MOST HOLY LADY, THEOTOKOS AND EVER-VIRGIN MARY.   Tammi went on to explain how in front of the bread and wine is where Fr. Gary will place the Icon of the Feast during the Litya service.  She then pointed to the iconostasis where on the very top are the 12 Icons for each of the Major Feasts of the Church Year. She pointed the one on the far left. That is where the Icon for today usually is but Fr. Gary took it down so we could venerate it later on the table in the middle of the Nave. So to "fill in the hole" Tammi and her husband Reader John donated an Icon of St. Demetrius in honor of John's brother, Demetrius who passed some time ago. So as the Church year progresses and a different Icon is taken down from the iconostasis  and the Icon of St. Demetrius fills in the hole and  rides across the iconostasis till the last Feast of the Year. Tammi said this last part with a chuckle and I glanced up to see St. Demetrius oh his horse. I smiled as I thought that for the past three years I've been here, I hadn't noticed that he was up there filling in a hole. I guess we all have our job to do.
The Nave of my parish....notice the 12 Icons on the top of the iconostasis. Although it is hard to make out, you can see St. Demetrius on his horse on the far left.

Tami went on to say that there were 12 Icons on the other side of the iconostasis of lesser feasts. She said she'd never see them (I guess because she's woman) but said maybe someday I could. I don't think so. One thing I like about having the Holy of Holies is it reminds me of God's holiness and only those who have a need to go in the Altar area should.  
What the Icon look like up close
After Vespers Fr. Gary said that even though it is unusual to have General Confession on a feast day, he said, since it was already on the calendar, he would. I was glad for it.  After the conversation I had with Fr. Gary where he suggested that, since he can't hear my confession (until I am Orthodox, that is) I should confess my sins during Evening Prayers at home. I hadn't thought that the monthly General Confession would be a good time to confess as well. So I did. Hey, it's the next best thing to "one on one" confession.

So, September marks the new Church year.  I listened to a podcast on the way to Vespers from Fr. Ambrose called Holy Apostles Weekly Homilies. You can hear it here. In it, Fr. Ambrose mentions how it is customary to make New Years Resolutions on December 31st. Well, we should do that for the New Church Year so I think I shall resolve, with the help of the Holy Spirit and the prayers of all the Saints, to attend as many services as possible, to be faithful in morning AND evening prayers and to start fasting with the Church.  I know I mentioned that I would start fasting back when I got the great "priestly advice" at the end of August but I hadn't started yet. It's a lot harder to implement when you live with non-fasters, especially if those non-fasters are doing the cooking.

During the General Confession there was a small Snafu that was quickly resolved.  Fr. Gary said the first sentence, beginning the Confession Service and waited for the Reader's response. Well, for five long seconds, we heard nothing. Then, the reader said something (he moved himself to the choir loft) but it was clear that he didn't have the book in front of him so he stumbled. Well, Reader Daira stepped up and said that part and things went very smoothly.  The Reader in the choir loft, by this time, had found his place on the page and resumed his reading at the proper time.  I mention all of this because, to me, it was a great example of how Worship is everything and we all work together to make sure that it is beautiful and God-pleasing. 

Keep me in your prayers, dear readers and may this new Church year bring you closer to Christ and His Kingdom


  1. That's really neat about the icon of St. Demetrios.
    A blessed Church Year to you!

  2. Thanks, Mimi...a blessed Church Year to you too!

  3. Hmmm. That icon really looks like S George slaying the dragon. S Demitrios, while also shown mounted and with a spear, is usually depicted with Thessalonica in the background.

    I enjoy reading about your increasing participation in Orthodox life. Once you are received into the church, you will have the Mysteries to strengthen you.

    Still praying for that happy event. YiC, Bill

  4. Bill, did I get the wrong Icon? I just went to google images and that is what came up

  5. I think so, Jim, but I'm no authority.

    Did you manage to make it to any of the services for the Holy Cross?

  6. Bill,
    Sadly I did not make it. We had some "life situations" to deal with at the time...